Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   by Jeannette Haley

       Does the word “doctrine” bring to mind long, boring sermons, old dusty theological books, and depressing church dogma? If so, you’re not alone. Many people view doctrine as something hard to learn, and harder yet to live up to. Causing people to get all excited about doctrine is sort of like trying to persuade a kid who is used to a diet of sugary carbohydrates that eating green vegetables is fun.

       Just how important is doctrine anyway? Hasn’t the Church been around long enough to know what’s right and what’s wrong? Besides, the world has changed a lot since the Bible was written, so why bother with a lot of in-depth teaching on doctrine when it’s more fun to have a happy hip hop music service, followed by an upbeat “positive” message that pumps up our sagging self-esteem?

       Of course, the answers are found in God’s unchanging Word. (You knew that was coming, didn’t you?) Check out 2 John 9, which says: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” Don’t like that verse? Let’s try another one. How about John 7:16, straight from the lips of Jesus: “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.” So, we see that the doctrine Jesus taught is from God. Doctrine, by the way, simply means instruction. Therefore, if God has given all mankind, including you and me, instruction through His written Word, the living Word, (John 1:1) and by the Holy Spirit, don’t you think we should be eager to receive His instruction (doctrine)?

       Going back to 2 John 9 we can read it forward and backward and still not escape the fact that if we transgress (disobey) the doctrine (Word) of God, and fail to abide (dwell) in Christ’s doctrine (instructions on how to conduct ourselves), we do not have God. We can play church, learn how to talk Christianeze, put on our best religious face, and jump through all the mandated church hoops, but until we truly humble ourselves and come to God on His terms, we are still lost in our sins.

       “Well,” you may protest, “God’s love is unconditional so it really doesn’t matter if I live my life the way I want to live it. After all, I believe in God, and I believe in Jesus, so all I have to do is just love everybody, and I’ll be okay.” If you think this way, I can tell you right now that you are wrong, and on your way to hell. First, where in the Bible does it say that God’s love is “unconditional?”  Secondly, show me where you can remain the lord of your life, instead of making Jesus Lord of your life, and be saved? Third, what does loving everybody have to do with obedience to the doctrine of Christ? There is often more love passed around by sinners in a bar than in the church, sad to say. But, that doesn’t make such people saints.

       If you want to learn the doctrine of Christ, then you, yourself, must read, study, meditate upon, and memorize the Word of God for yourself. You must sit at the feet of Jesus and learn of Him. You must allow yourself to be taught by the Holy Spirit. (See 1 John 2:27.) If you get your doctrine from any other source than from the Word of God itself, and the Holy Spirit Himself, then you are a sitting duck for deception.

       You may be one of the many who depends on TBN or some other “god” station for your daily dose of doctrine. If you are, I can assure you that your doctrinal foundation is built on sand, and I can also assure you that your foundation won’t stand when the storms of life hit. If you have bought into the “positive confession” or “word of faith” doctrines, your foundation is likewise sand.  Perhaps your religious philosophies come from Christian fiction or worse yet (if that’s possible) through any number of the New Age books that have found their way into the homes and minds of professing Christians. Maybe your belief system is based on a confusing jumble of “prophecies” and twisted teachings of the “apostles” and “prophets” from the Latter Rain Revival or Dominionist camp.  Maybe you have formulated your doctrine from bits and pieces from some, or all, of the above. God help you if you have!

       Jesus is the Cornerstone of the true Christian foundation. If we don’t get Him right, then we are not going to get anything right. You may choose to believe doctrine that sounds good, or doctrine that feels good. You may decide to believe the doctrine that your favorite author or TV personality teaches because it suits you. You may even believe doctrine that, on the surface, appears to be the truth to your way of thinking, but all of these sources of doctrine will fail you in the end. There is only one way, one truth and one life, not many ways or many truths leading to the real life in Christ. If the Jesus of the Bible is not the Cornerstone, and the Foundation of our lives (not just our “religious” life, but our whole life) then we are doomed. If we fail to be established in Spirit and in Truth, then our perspective, our spirit and our understanding will be perverted. We will remain in spiritual darkness, thus deceiving ourselves. (See 1 Thessalonians 5:12.)

       The one thing that will set us up faster than anything else to be deceived is our pride. We think we are so smart. We think we can figure it out ourselves. But, in this cocky frame of mind, all we will end up with is a confusing jumble of disconnected religious platitudes, man’s philosophies and Satanic lies. Do you really think it’s worth it?

       The thing is, even a child can understand, receive and believe the doctrines of Christ because they, in their innocence, keep it simple. When presented with the Gospel, everything, to a child, begins and ends with Jesus. They understand that Jesus is the source of all life and truth. He invites us in Matthew 11:28, 29: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Emphasis added.) Are the doctrines you live by making your burden heavy? Think about it. If they are too hard to bear, then you didn’t learn them from Jesus, but from some other source.

       The Apostle Paul, writing to the church at Corinth, warned: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him” 2 Corinthians 11:3, 4. (Emphasis added.)

       This brings us to the doctrines of devils. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy having their conscience seared with a hot iron” 1 Timothy 4:1, 2. Folks, we are in the “latter times,” and people en masse are departing from the [true] faith, and they are giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. Why? Again, the answer is pride. Pride demands its own way to appease the flesh with its lusts. Pride blinds people to the fact that sin must be dealt with in one’s life. Pride is self-serving and selfish. Pride may pretend to be operating in “love” by throwing a bone to others from time to time, but underneath the charade is a hard heart of hatred towards all that real Christianity stands for. Pride resists the claims of Christ, resists Jesus as Lord of one’s life, and resists true penitence and repentance. The result is described for us again, by the Apostle Paul: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” 2 Timothy 4:3, 4.

       Religious pride produces a variety of grotesque spiritual deformities in a person’s life that work against all that is pure, holy and godly. Such is the spirit of antichrist—that spirit working tirelessly to turn true seekers of the Lord Jesus Christ aside from the straight and narrow road of true Christianity on to the glittering path of supernatural experiences that deceive and delude. As Jesse Penn Lewis wrote in her book, “War on the Saints,” “. . . the peril is supernatural. And those who are in danger are the spiritual children of God, who are not often deceived by the world or the flesh, but who are open to all they can learn of spiritual things and who have a sincere longing to be more spiritual and more advanced in the knowledge of God.

       “Deception by doctrines does not concern the world as much as the church. Evil spirits would not urge spiritual Christians into open sin such as murder, drinking, gambling, etc., but would plan deception in the form of teaching and doctrines. Yet, believers do not realize that deception from teaching and doctrines allows evil spirits to oppress a deceived person as much as through sin.

       “All teachings originating from deceiving spirits weaken the authority of the Scriptures, distort the teaching in the Scriptures, add the thoughts of men to the Scriptures, [and] put the Scriptures entirely aside.”

       The bottom line to Satan’s goal to prepare the way for his one-world government is to mock the Person and work of Jesus Christ through his seducing spirits and doctrines of demons. Admittedly, his kingdom of darkness is spreading over the face of the earth at a rapid rate thanks to his false apostles, false prophets, false teachers and healers with their false doctrines and lying signs and wonders.

       Remember, Satan comes as an “angel of light” and his ministers appear as “ministers of righteousness.” (Read 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.) As Christians, we are told to “put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” Ephesians 6:11. In 2 Thessalonians 2:9 we read that Satan works with “all power and signs and lying wonders.” The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in the church at Corinth: “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (Emphasis added) The question is, if you are one of those who are either on the fence, spiritually speaking, or in step with the so-called “new thing” that God is doing, are you a match for the god of this world?

       Tampering with God’s Word in order to make God into something He is not, or to mold Jesus into another “Jesus,” or to introduce a spirit other than the Holy Spirit seems to be the norm of our day. However, as Dave Hunt wrote in The Berean Call, July 2008: “We must stand up for God’s truth and not compromise. Sadly, we have Christian leaders today who not only disobey but even dare to revise what God had clearly written in His Word!

       “We cannot make what we think will be acceptable ‘small adjustments’ to God’s way of salvation. If we tamper in the slightest with the gospel, we are despising God’s Word and jeopardizing the eternal destiny of souls! The unchanging and unchangeable ‘gospel of Christ [not the latest revision of it]…is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth [it]’ (Rom 1:16). This is the only way of salvation. Jesus said that for anyone to ‘see [and] enter into the kingdom of God [i.e., be saved] he…must be born again’ (Jn 3:3, 5, 7). Peter declares that we are ‘born again…by the word of God…which by the gospel is preached’ (1 Pt 1:23-25).”

       Which doctrine are you receiving and living by? Is it the doctrines of Christ, or the doctrines of demons? Which has the greatest influence upon you? The choice is yours.